Optical mouse

Updated: 06/30/2019 by Computer Hope
Bottom of optical-mechanical and optical computer mouse

The optical mouse is a computer mouse first introduced by Microsoft on April 19, 1999, that utilizes LEDs (light-emitting diodes) or a laser to track movement. These differing technologies are identified by examining the bottom of the mouse. As you can see in the picture, the optical-mechanical mouse has a ball, and the optical mouse has a light instead.

How does an optical mouse work?

An optical mouse also has a tiny low-resolution camera that takes a thousand or more pictures every second. In the camera, the CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) sensor sends a signal to a DSP (digital signal processor). The DSP can then analyze each picture for pattern and light changes, and then moves the mouse cursor on your screen.

Optical mouse disadvantages

Optical mice don't work as well on reflective surfaces such as glass tables. However, in comparison to optical-mechanical mice, optical mice are a much better solution.

Why is the mouse light red?

Although not all optical mice use red, it's the most common LED used because it's often the cheaper diode and because the photodetectors are more sensitive to red light.

Are all optical mice wireless?

No. Optics is only the technology used to detect movement. There are both wireless and corded versions of optical mice.

Further optical mouse history

Before Microsoft introduced their mouse in 1999, there were many different companies and inventors who had earlier styles of optical mice. In the 1980s, Richard Lyon and Steve Kirsch both independently created their own versions of an optical mouse that required a special surface to move the cursor.

Mouse terms